For the machinery making industry on the other hand, it has generally been a very good year, with many manufacturers even breaking their own historic sales records.

Some of the most positive news of 2013 has come from North America, and particularly the US. The promise shown early in the year, and reported in WBPI February/March 2013 and subsequent issues, turned out to be true, with the growth in housebuilding picking up pace and consequent demand for OSB following suit. Production is being increased and moth-balled mills brought back into production, while there is also talk of brand new mills to come and panel makers are all reporting good financial figures in 2013.

It also seems inevitable that demand for MDF and particleboard will follow, with new production capacity required, partly to meet demand, and partly to update the many old multiopening lines still operating in North America.

However, not everything is in favour of such growth in capacity, because it will require a substantial increase in wood raw material supply and thereby hangs a problem. With the illconsidered rush to biofuelled energy generation, demand for wood pellets has rocketed, particularly from Europe, and market study company RISI has pointed out that this will have "…..implications for wood fibre demand and, ultimately, prices". See p5 News in this issue. The global sawlog price is also rising, with knock-on effects for the panel industry.

Now back to the good news: it seems that just about all the major machinery makers supplying the industry have full order books, often going well into 2014. Many think that this will not continue and that new order intake in 2014 will not match that of 2013.

However, as Volker Kitzelmann, cfo of Dieffenbacher, said: "This year has been good for us, but I believe the number of projects ordered next year will be lower. Having said that, 2013 was a big surprise!" (See p28 in this issue). So don’t give up hope just yet….

No review of an odd-numbered year would be complete without mention of the Ligna and Interzum exhibitions. This year’s events were very well-attended by both exhibitors and visitors and the response afterwards was overwhelmingly positive, which does bode well for the future.

I am very pleased to say that for the past year WBPI has been able to report a lot of optimism in every issue and I am sure that will continue into 2014.

It just remains for me to thank all our readers and advertisers for their continued support and to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2014.